Skinning the Gloves by Jeff Ellis

Professional boxers are required to have tape around the wrist of the gloves in order to prevent the laces from coming undone.

Skinning: - To displace the padding and tighten the skin of the glove.

The question is, is it a cheap move for an advantage, or an illegal attempt to brutally hurt and destroy an opponent?

I am of the opinion that trainers, who apply this method, do so with intent to brutally destroy an opponent. It is deliberate and trainers and boxers who practice this method should be brought to book.

Up until the eighties, before the introduction of foam padding, boxing gloves were padded with ‘horse’ hair. You would often see trainers putting on the gloves one at a time and ‘work’ the ‘hair’ down by hitting the glove continuously from the knuckle area downwards.

Nowadays ‘Skinning’ is pretty much trainers pulling back the skin of the gloves, to create more pressure in the gloves and make the punches more impactful. Skinning the gloves has nothing at all to do with how the gloves are taped. Skinning is where the fighter puts the gloves on and the trainer laces the gloves but does not tie them.

The fighter holds out his glove, palm down and grips the glove tight. The trainer then brings the laces around from the bottom and crosses the laces over the knuckle area of the fist. He then pulls tightly and pulls the crossed laces from the knuckle area to the base of the fingers under the glove. Do this multiple times and the padding is displaced from the knuckles to the finger tips before finally tying the laces.

Taping the gloves up high is a means to camouflage the ‘skinning’ and worst of all the tape becomes a knife edge to inflict cuts.

Whenever this discussion comes up, it is said that the referee or fight official is responsible to check and sign the boxers hand bandages.

The same official is also responsible to approve the gloving up of all boxers at a tournament, sadly in South Africa this does not happen.

World bodies are very strict regarding ‘skinning’ and can fine, suspend or take a title from a guilty boxer depending on the severity and impact caused by this illegal practice.